Programming Trends for 2016

56,033 developers from 173 different countries responded to the annual survey run by Stack Overflow, the well-known Q&A platform dedicated to programming. The results of the survey, first run in 2013, provide a good snapshot of programming and technology trends.

Popularity of Different Technologies

Most Popular Technologies, 2016

The survey question on programmers’ use of technology shows, unsurprisingly, that JavaScript is the most popular programming language today, used by 55% of programmers. PHP’s popularity is waning, dropping in use from 35% to 26% of programmers in four years, while Node and Angular, the two titans of the JavaScript frameworks world, are gaining in popularity.

As for front-end developers, the AngularJS-JavaScript-Node.js trio is supplanting the classic JavaScript-PHP-SQL triad. On the back-end, though the JavaScript-PHP-SQL triumvirate still reigns, the Java-JavaScript-SQL and C#-JavaScript-SQL musketeers are catching up in the three-legged race.

Self-identified full-stack developers seem to be rather conservative and are scarcely affected by JavaScript frameworks, going in for the JavaScript-PHP-SQL and C#-JavaScript-SQL tripods, as if these developers were back-end developers first and foremost.

However, one subpopulation of developers is pursuing its own romance: Data Scientists. Their loves are called Python and R — I’ve included the Wikipedia link, because you may very well never have heard of R, an implementation of the equally famous S. Data Scientists know SQL, whether out of interest or necessity, and none are immune to the charms of Java.

The Podium

Most Loved Programming Languages, 2016

Asking developers whether they hoped to continue working with each of the languages and technologies they currently use yielded some suprising results. This classification expresses attachment to technology: to obtain a good score, a technology must allow its users to fulfill their mission in a manner that is both efficient and pleasant. Top of the list is Rust, the language born under the aegis of Mozilla, with a satisfaction rate of close to 80%. Next comes Swift, Apple’s hip new language; F#, originally developed by Microsoft Research; then Scala, courtesy of the École polytechnique de Lausanne; and finally, Go, the brainchild of a group of Google programmers. Clojure, Haskell, Python and C# also made a good showing, with satisfaction rates of over 60%.

At the bottom of the pile, the least-liked technologies are Visual Basic (who knew it was still in use?), WordPress, Matlab, Sharepoint, CoffeeScript, Cordova, Salesforce, Perl, and — oddly — LAMP.

Editor Wars

Development Environments, 2016

Notepad++ and Visual Studio are photo-finish winners. Sublime Text, Vim, Eclipse and IntelliJ are also widely used.

And to fan the flames, if you’re still pondering the old question “Vi (IMproved) or Emacs?”, the answer is clearly illustrated above.

Working OSs

Desktop Operating System, 2016

Macintosh seems to be on the rise, going from 18.5% programmer penetration in 2013 to 26% in 2016. Windows XP has gone the way of the dodo, soon to be followed by Windows 7 (48% to 22% in four years) and Windows 8. Windows 10 is in with a bang, with an adoption rate of 21%. Linux has remained steady since 2013, at 20%.

Where the Girls Are

Developers Gender, 2016

Sad but true, and not about to change the “brogrammer” stereotype… Is coding a matter of testosterone? Of course not. The roots of that phenomenon are basically socio-cultural. Here’s proof: amidst the overall under-representation of women, just look at the high representation of female programmers in Asia (South Korea, India, China). Almost one-third of programmers in Bangalore are women. We can also see that women programmers are mostly confined to certain fields: design, Quality Assurance and front-end development.

Star Wars vs. Star Trek

Star Wars vs Star Trek, 2016

Programmers 50 years old and over tend to be Trekkies…

To see the full results of the survey, including developers’ aspirations and remuneration, go to Stack Overflow’s Web site.

[Graphics by Michel Karam, Spiria.]